With my good friend Alice living four hours away in Chester, we realised we wouldn’t get much quality time together once her baby arrived and decided a girls only break was in order. Bedford Lodge, a luxurious four-star spa hotel in the racing town of Newmarket, was an easy 90-minute train journey out of Kings Cross via Cambridge, ideal for both of us to reach on public transport.
Situated next to some of the most famous racing stables in the world, this Georgian former hunting lodge offers a grand country house charm from the outside, with a chic yet comfortable boutique feel inside. Our twin room overlooking the gardens was blissfully quiet and cosy, with thoughtful touches like Molton Brown toiletries in the bathroom and delicious lavender shortbread to go with our tea. As we took a quick lie down with our cuppas, the pair of us agreed we felt thoroughly chilled out and away from it all.
As well as the 77 rooms, the hotel has a health club with a pool and gym for guests to use, and lots of lovely grounds to explore. But the main attraction for us was the spa that sits in a beautiful white building next door and also boasts equally luxurious modern facilities within a period facade. There’s real attention to detail in the facilities, to ensure your visit is as relaxed as possible, from chocolate brown bathrobes and towels, locker keys on smart beaded bracelets, ESPA toiletries in the showers and even hair straighteners in the changing rooms.
After a quick tour with the manager, we couldn’t wait to take a dip in the stunning hydrotherapy pool, which is surrounded by floor to ceiling windows and a true suntrap. There’s a sauna and steam room too, for visitors who aren’t restricted by pregnancy, as well as a rooftop hot tub, although the weather was a bit too cold during our visit for us to dip our toes in.
Instead, we lounged on the day beds in the mezzanine with our magazines until our therapists arrived to show us to the treatment rooms. We had both booked in for ESPA Time (£80 an hour), where the therapist carries out a mix of treatments to suit your needs using ESPA products. As she gave my feet a gentle wash, we discussed my needs. I'd originally planned to ask for a general massage, but she had grander plans for me! Instead, I had firm back, arm and shoulder massage with relaxing oils to tackle the worst of my knots, followed by a hydrating eye mask and facial after checking which areas needed help under a Skin Vision UV light. It was amazing what she got done in just an hour!
Feeling completely relaxed, I was lead to the cosy black and red relaxation room, where Alice was already dozing under a blanket. Prior to the treatment, her feet and ankles had been suffering badly with pregnancy puffiness, so much so, she was struggling to wear her spa sandals and was going to ask for just a leg treatment. But her therapist combined it with a facial and head and neck massage, leaving on a mask while she got to work on those feet - which now miraculously fitted in her shoes. Result!
It would have been easy to stay lounging at the spa but we had a reservation at the hotel’s Squires restaurant to get to. It was a quiet evening but the staff thoughtfully space us around the red and green dining room so everyone had privacy to chat. We were pleasantly surprised by the inventive menu (which lists all the suppliers, part of the hotel’s locally sourced food ethos), the downside of this being that it was incredibly tricky to choose, even with pregnancy diet restrictions!
After much umming and ahhing, I opted for the hearty wood pigeon and beetroot with pickled walnuts, and a main course of Rogan Josh spiced monkfish with Bombay potato and pickled cauliflower. Alice chose the gunard with seaweed linguini pasta and samphire, followed by Suffolk pork tenderloin with a shredded pork terrine, quinoa, chorizo and crispy vegetable with lime, strawberry and fruit cider sauce. Quite the (delicious) mouthful, both to order and eat!
The presentation was just as impressive as the dishes – they were almost too pretty to eat, especially our glorious desserts of banana and coffee (a mix of parfait, crispy banana, cake and marshmallows) and the chocolate, caramel and violet, which came complete with edible pink glitter! I'm not a dessert person but I really would have been happy with any of the choices on that list - a real compliment to the chef.
Afterwards, we grabbed a nightcap next door in the Roxana bar, where the thoroughly lovely barman recommended a tasty local gin (in fact, all the staff we encountered were very friendly). However, after a few sips, we had to call it a night and take our drinks up to bed with us, a combination of utter relaxation and major food coma.
Following a deep sleep, we were back down to Squires for breakfast - a buffet of fruits, cereals and pastries, as well as hot cooked options, all freshly prepared and very tasty. Perfect fuel for the journey home.
Pure Indulgence Summer Spa Break is £390 for two. Includes 60-minute ESPA treatment, full afternoon tea with champagne, use of spa, three-course dinner, bed and breakfast, and access to gym and health club. Available until 31 August 2015. bedfordlodgehotelspa.co.uk